7 Best Things To Do In Lerwick Cruise Port (Shetland Islands) + Port Info

Lerwick, Shetland Islands

Welcome to Lerwick, the charming capital of the Shetland Islands in the northeast of Scotland (United Kingdom), an archipelago comprising over 100 islands known for spectacular vistas, abundant wildlife, and a rich history.

The town of Lerwick is located on the Shetland archipelago’s main island called Mainland. Cruise ships typically anchor and use tender boats which dock at a small harbour, located within a short walk from downtown, where you can explore the town’s landmarks such as the iconic Shetland Museum and Archives.

Cruise ships frequently stop at Lerwick as part of the British Isles cruise or on their way to the Norwegian fjords and Iceland.

In this article, we’ll dive deeper into practical information about the Lerwick cruise terminal and uncover the 7 best things to do in Lerwick port.

Visit also our cruise port guides to Kirkwall, NewcastleCork/Cobh, Belfast, Dover, Glasgow (Greenock)Invergordon (Inverness)

Lerwick Cruise Port

Cruise ships up to 230 meters in length can dock at either Mair’s Pier (1.8 miles from Lerwick downtown) or Holmsgarth 5 (1 mile from downtown). In this case, due to the distance, the Port of Lerwick usually offers free shuttle buses to transfer passengers to the town center.

More frequently, large cruise vessels anchor in front of the town and use tender boats to transfer passengers to Victoria Pier, a pontoon pier adjacent to a small parking lot for tour buses and taxis. This dock is located within a short walk from Lerwick’s old town. Here, you’ll find essential amenities such as a taxi stand, public toilets, and an internet connection to stay connected.

Nearby, you’ll find a great tourist information office known as VisitScotland Lerwick iCentre where you can get maps and gather information on local attractions, activities, tours and car rentals. A supermarket, shops and cafes/restaurants are available within an easy walk from there.

For anyone looking to explore beyond the port’s nearby area, Lerwick has a reliable local transportation system. Bus schedules are available at the Lerwick iCentre and you can also check them on the official webpage https://www.zettrans.org.uk/

7 Best Things To Do In Lerwick Cruise Port, Shetland Islands

From wandering through the quiet streets of Lerwich Old Town to spotting Shetland ponies and exploring the archaeological sites, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this small, yet beautiful port of call!

1. Lerwick Old Town

The historic streets of Lerwick are conveniently located within short walking distance from the dock. Take your time to wander around its cobblestone streets lined with quaint shops, traditional houses, and historic buildings. Here’s a list of the must-see landmarks:

1.1. Shetland Museum and Archives

This small yet impressive museum, located within a 15-minute walk from Victoria Pier, takes you on a fascinating journey through the Shetland Islands’ local history and culture.

The museum features a wealth of exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays that showcase the diverse heritage of the Shetland Islands, from the maritime history that shaped its identity to the Norse influences that are still evident today.

1.2. Commercial Street

This picturesque street, lined with traditional stone buildings, is the main shopping area in the town offering a delightful mix of independent shops, local boutiques, and inviting cafes. Here, you can find unique Shetland crafts, high-quality knitwear, and a variety of local products.

Commercial Street is pedestrian-friendly and lies parallel to Victoria Pier.

1.3. Fort Charlotte

If you keep walking uphill toward the end of Commercial Street, you’ll come across the historic Fort Charlotte, a 17th-century fortress perched atop a hill overlooking Lerwick Harbor.

Built to protect the harbor from Dutch attacks, this well-preserved fortification features robust stone walls and five bastions. Visitors can explore the grounds, its ramparts, cannons, and exhibitions while enjoying panoramic views of Lerwick, Bressay Sound, and the surrounding area.

Fort Charlotte is located within a 5-minute walk from the dock.

Lerwick - Fort Charlotte
Fort Charlotte. Source: Canva Pro

1.4. The Lodberrie

Located at the other end of Commercial Street, within a 5-minute walk from the port, the Lodberrie is one of Lerwick’s most iconic and picturesque landmarks, known for its charming row of 18th-century waterfront buildings.

Originally used as a trading post and storage area for goods arriving by sea, the Lodberrie now stands as a symbol of Lerwick’s rich maritime heritage. The buildings, with their distinctive stone exteriors and wooden doors, have been carefully preserved, and one of them even featured as the home of Detective Jimmy Perez in the popular TV series “Shetland.”

Explore Lerwick tours and activities

2. Broch of Clickimin

The Broch of Clickimin (or Clickimin Broch) is a remarkable archaeological site located 1 mile (a 25-minute walk) from Lerwick’s town center. This well-preserved Iron Age broch, dating back over 2,000 years, is situated on a small islet connected by a causeway and offers a fascinating glimpse into Shetland’s ancient past.

The site includes a round stone tower and surrounding structures, providing insights into the architectural skills and daily life of its early inhabitants.

Aside from the broch itself, the surrounding area provides opportunities for leisurely hikes and relaxing nature walks with beautiful views of the sea.

Located along Lerwick’s scenic waterfront, within a 5-minute walk from the archaeological site, is the iconic Fjarå Café Bar which offers a delightful dining experience with stunning views of Bressay Sound.

Explore the Broch of Clickimin tours and activities

Lerwick - Broch of Clickimin
Broch of Clickimin. Source: Pixabay.com

3. Böd of Gremista

The Böd of Gremista is a historic 18th-century fishing booth located at the north end of Lerwick, right next to Lerwick Marina, around 1.8 miles (a 40-minute walk) from Victoria Pier. If your cruise ship docks at Mair’s Pier or Holmsgarth Pier, you can reach it in a 5-10 minute walk.

Built in 1780, the Böd of Gremista originally served as a storehouse and lodging for fishermen and traders. Today, it has been transformed into a fascinating museum that offers insights into Shetland’s fishing heritage and traditional way of life.

Visitors can explore the preserved interior, which includes period furnishings and exhibits on local history, including the story of Arthur Anderson, a Shetlander who co-founded the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O).

4. Wildlife Spotting

The Shetland Islands boast a rich and diverse array of wildlife, making them a paradise for nature enthusiasts. Among the most famous residents are the sturdy Shetland ponies, known for their small size and remarkable strength. These ponies, with their thick, weather-resistant coats, can be seen grazing in the island’s lush pastures.

The rugged coastline and remote landscapes also provide ideal habitats for a variety of seabirds, including puffins, guillemots, and razorbills, which nest in the cliffs.

The surrounding waters are home to seals, otters, and occasionally visiting orcas and dolphins, offering spectacular wildlife viewing opportunities.

Inland, the moorlands and wetlands support diverse birdlife and small mammals.

The best ways to see the Shetland Islands’ wildlife from Lerwick include boat tours that navigate around scenic spots like Noss National Nature Reserve, offering views of seabirds, seals, and occasionally whales.

Guided wildlife safaris and walking tours take visitors to key locations for spotting otters, Shetland ponies, and diverse bird species.

Kayaking trips along the coastline provide close encounters with marine life, while local nature reserves like Clickimin Loch and Loch of Spiggie offer excellent bird-watching opportunities.

Explore wildlife spotting tours from Lerwick

Lerwick - Shetland pony
Shetland pony. Source: Canva Pro

5. Explore Archaeological Sites

The Shetland Islands are known for numerous ancient archaeological sites scattered across the archipelago. Besides Clickimin Broch, a few other remarkable sites are accessible from the port of Lerwick.

One of these sites is the Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse Settlement, which lies 25 miles (a 35-minute drive) south of Lerwick cruise port and spans over a fascinating 4,000 years of history. This archeological marvel features remains from the Bronze Age, Iron Age, Pictish era, Norse settlement, and medieval period, including stone structures, a broch, and a medieval farmhouse.

Exploring Jarlshof allows you to walk in the footsteps of ancient peoples, marvel at their craftsmanship, and gain insights into their daily lives, customs, and societal evolution over thousands of years.

Broch of Mousa is another archaeological site you can visit, reachable by ferry from Lerwick. This remarkably well-preserved broch, located on the uninhabited island of Mousa 15 miles south of Lerwick port, is one of the finest examples of its kind in Scotland.

Rising majestically to over 13 meters in height, this broch offers a glimpse into ancient construction techniques and features fantastic panoramic views of the coast.

Old Scatness Broch & Iron Age Village, located near Jarlshof, is the third ancient site well worth visiting. The site features a well-preserved Iron Age broch and Pictish and Norse settlement remains and offers guided tours and interactive exhibits.

Lerwick - Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse Settlement
Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse Settlement. Source: Canva Pro

6. Scenic Coastal Walks

The Shetland Islands are known for their stunning natural landscapes and scenic coastal walks are an ideal way to explore them.

You can circumnavigate the town of Lerwick on a Lerwick coastal walk, which starts from the Lerwick Esplanade and goes around the town to the renowned Fjarå Café Bar. The walk takes about 2 hours and involves walking on partially hilly terrain. It’s also a great way to explore the local life as the route will take you to some local neighborhoods.

The Lerwick Esplanade offers another great stroll along the waterfront promenade and provides beautiful views of the harbor, traditional fishing boats, and the surrounding islands.

For a longer walk, the Knab, located only a 20-minute walk south of Lerwick, offers panoramic vistas of rugged cliffs, the open sea, and glimpses of seabirds soaring overhead.

7. Sample Local Cuisine

A visit to Lerwick cruise port is not complete without tasting the fresh local seafood, hearty stews, and traditional Orcadian dishes, perfectly complemented by a pint of local ale or a warming dram of whisky.

Begin your culinary exploration with delicious Shetland mussels, harvested from the pristine waters surrounding the islands. Steamed, baked, or served in a creamy sauce, the Shetland mussels are a seafood lover’s dream!

You must also try the famous Shetland salmon. This famous fish, whether smoked to perfection or eaten fresh, is of great quality and flavor because of the cold, clear waters in which it lives.

For a taste of traditional Orcadian cuisine, look no further than hearty stews and comforting dishes. Warm up with a hearty broth filled with root vegetables, barley, and succulent chunks of meat, and enjoy local dishes such as reestit mutton, a local delicacy made from salted and dried mutton that’s been slow-cooked to tender perfection.

To top off your day, try “Beremeal Bannock“, a traditional Scottish flatbread often enjoyed with sweet toppings like butter, honey, or jam.

Visit also our cruise port guide to Liverpool, Dover, Dublin, Reykjavik, Bergen, Geirangerfjord, Cherbourg, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Le Havre

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